“Art Books in Light,” 2009. Exhibition view at W139, Amsterdam. Photo: Henni van Beek
W139 is a combined production-exhibition space for contemporary art in the center of Amsterdam. It was founded in 1979 by a group of young artists who wanted to present an alternative to what was shown by the city’s museums and commercial galleries, which they felt to be too uniform. For more than thirty years, W139 has been providing “space for risk,” fulfilling a unique role in the Dutch art world.
W139’s main venue is situated in the heart of Amsterdam’s historical center, between its commercial area and the shady goings-on of the Red Light district. This location, and the crude volumes of W139’s exhibition space, all add to W139’s unique character. W139 provides an environment in which artists can develop projects that would be inconceivable anywhere else.
W139 started out as an experimental site for local Amsterdam artists, and continues to build on a tradition of flexibility and ingenuity to this day. Artists from both the Netherlands and abroad are encouraged to develop new insights into their ideas and their work, and are actively supported in realizing the results of this process. W139 is a space for the unrestrained imagination.